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Electric bikes are a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and get some fresh air. Electric bikes are becoming more popular every day, and you might have started to see them in your neighborhood. In the city, they are taking off and becoming many people’s preferred method of commuting. Let’s discuss electric bike safety tips for riding.
Electric bikes can reduce your carbon footprint while bypassing traffic. The drawback is that electric cyclists face potential hazards while riding. Cyclists must share the road with vehicles and pedestrians who are not always aware of their surroundings. This can make riding dangerous. Serious accidents and deaths by cyclists have increased by a whopping 38% in the past decade. Most of these accidents and deaths involved motor vehicles.
It is not our goal to discourage anyone from getting out and riding, but it is important to be cognizant when riding and follow the right safety tips. Be sure to learn these basic tips to stay safe while riding: check your equipment prior to riding, wear a helmet, wear bright colors, and always keep your head on a swivel.
In this article, we will get more specific and provide some real-life examples.
Always, always, always wear a helmet before getting on your e-bike to follow electric bike safety tips. You can typically wear a regular bike helmet while riding your e-bike. If your e-bike goes faster than 20 MPH (class 3), you might want to opt for a helmet that has more head coverage and meets DOT standards. Otherwise, a lightweight bike helmet or Multi-Directional Impact Protection System helmet will have you covered. A helmet might be the most important safety precaution you can take.
Wear reflective clothing and accessories that are visible. Being visible is not just about being seen while riding at night; it is just as important whatever time of day you decide to go for a spin. If you need to go out at night, choose reflective clothing and accessories that are extra visible. Orange is a great choice for increasing visibility. Do not wear dark clothes or black cycling gear. Get bright lights for your bike and consider adding a blinking light for extra caution.
The distance you ride is often determined by your personal skill level. Ride at a pace where you will be able to stop in time if you need to. Do not ride at a speed too fast for your ability to stop quickly. Not only is it dangerous, but it will also burn extra fuel and lower your range.
Do not ride in the street unless it is an official bike lane. The bike lane should be in the roadway or adjacent to the sidewalk. It should be unmarked, clearly signed, and clearly marked. Ride in this bike lane or on the sidewalk only if the markings are clearly visible, as well as where your e-bike has the right of way.
Stay on the road
If you must ride on the pavement, avoid riding on high curbs, make sure there’s room to brake, and make sure there are no cars or buses coming from the other direction. Ride defensively and watch out for cars turning across your path. Situational awareness is key in avoiding serious injuries and fatalities. Knowing what you are riding into anticipating the hazards will save you a bad wreck story. These hazards are particularly common in busy cities where vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are sharing these spaces.
Avoid riding in bad weather
Slippery roads, bitter wind, and minimal visibility can make biking in the rain more challenging. When your electric bike is riding through wet roadways, or if you are pedaling into the wind, you can lose control of the e-bike and crash more easily. If you are riding in a storm, try to get to the shelter and get a ride home from someone.
Keep your bike maintained
Find an e-bike shop that you like and trust. Make sure the bike shop is experienced with your type of e-bike. Have the shop inspect and tune your twice a year if you ride regularly. Try to charge the battery whenever you have the chance. Ensure tires are properly inflated and at the recommended tire pressure, which should be visible on the inner part of the tire. We also suggest you manually test your brakes on a regular basis, and frequently clean, lube, and inspect your chain.
The overall function of the bike depends on the battery, so testing the battery’s capacity often will help gauge how much “life” it has left. Keep your bike in good shape so you are always prepared to ride.
Stay in the bike lane
Electric bicycles are allowed on roadways and limited access highways, bike lanes, bike paths, and multipurpose paths. Most local jurisdictions can modify these and restrict use when necessary. While Class 1 and Class 2 electric-assisted bicycles are not explicitly prohibited from riding on sidewalks, it is unlawful to ride a Class 3 electric-assisted bicycle on a sidewalk unless there is no alternative.
Bikes must use bike lanes or on-street bike paths when possible. Even when a lane or path is full, and cars cannot pass, you should stay in the lane to prevent injuries and to reduce crashes. Exercise caution in the driveways to on-street bike paths. We recently saw this happen on Q13 News: in Seattle, an e-bike was attempting to turn left when a car cut across the bike lane in front of him.
Follow traffic laws
The same basic laws that apply to cars — cars with passengers and cyclists — apply to electric bikes. Find your state and check the laws. Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed on sidewalks or trails. Cyclists riding on roads must obey all traffic laws, and traffic laws apply on bicycle trails too. Bicycles have all the same RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES as cars.